Extending Indonesia’s Forest Moratorium Is a Win for Business

By Fred Stolle and Octavia Payne

This article originally appeared on Insights.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo reaffirmed his commitment to climate leadership this week by renewing Indonesia’s national forest moratorium, which prohibits new licenses to clear key forest areas. While the environmental benefits are well-recognized, the move should also be hailed as a win for businesses and local producers.

12183672015_39e78f8da8_kThanks to its large swaths of land, tropical climate, abundant labor and proximity to major markets, Indonesia is well-placed to cash in on the growing global demand for commodities like palm oil, timber, sugar, rice, pulp and paper. The potential profits from these products are sometimes seen as conflicting with efforts like the forest moratorium. But research and experience show that the policy may actually boost current and future economic prosperity.

Continue reading

Protecting Indonesia’s forests is a key issue for Paris climate talks

By Nirarta “Koni” Samadhi and Nigel Sizer

This article originally appeared on The Guardian.

If we are serious about tackling climate change, we need to talk about Indonesia.

While it may not be the country with the highest emissions from energy or industry, what Indonesia does have is forests, and lots of them. Many of the country’s more than 13,000 islands are blanketed by vast green jungles that absorb carbon and store it in trees and soils.

Oil palm seedling in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. PHOTO: Yayan Indriatmoko for CIFOR (Flickr)

But Indonesia, like many fast-developing countries, is subject to widespread deforestation, releasing carbon pollution back into the atmosphere. Deforestation and land use change drives about 80% of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which according to some estimates makes it the world’s fifth biggest emitter.

This year, Indonesia’s leaders have the opportunity to limit these emissions by protecting some of its vast forests under its national “forest moratorium.”

Continue reading

GFW Map: Oil Palm-Driven Forest Clearing in Leuser Ecosystem Detected by 2013 Data

Oil Palm-Driven Forest Clearing in Leuser Ecosystem Detected by 2013 Data

The Leuser Ecosystem on the Indonesian island of Sumatra is a hotspot for endangered biodiversity, described by Mongabay as “the only place on Earth where rhinos, orangutans, tigers and elephants live in the same habitat.” A broad area of the Leuser Ecosystem is designated a “National Strategic Area” for Indonesia, and is mapped as a “conservation area” by  the World Database on Protected Areas.

But the protection afforded to this area is ambiguous—in several areas the Indonesian government has granted licenses for oil palm, timber, and wood fiber development that overlap with the mapped protected area. The area highlighted in the map falls both within the Leuser Ecosystem and is designated as a palm oil concession for PT. Mestika Prima Lestari Indah according to Indonesian government data.

This spot stands out when we look at the new 2013 tree cover loss data released last week. The GFW analysis tool indicates that 1,187 hectares of tree cover (an area the size of 1,600 soccer pitches) were cleared 2012 and 2013 alone, much in degraded primary forests. Zooming in on the satellite basemap shows the distinctive brown contours and green dots of an area cleared for oil palm planting.

Explore the area on GFW here.



Tree Cover Loss Spikes in Russia and Canada, Remains High Globally

By Nigel Sizer, Matt Hansen, Peter Potapov, David Thau, Rachael Petersen, and James Anderson

Header photo from Sara Lindstrom, Flickr.

This article originally appeared on Insights.

New, high-resolution satellite-based maps released today by the University of Maryland and Google on Global Forest Watch, a partnership of over 60 organizations convened by the World Resources Institute, reveal a significant recent surge in tree cover loss largely in Russia and Canada during 2013. There is also some good news, with a slowing of tree cover loss in Indonesia, though rates of loss continue a troubling rise across the tropics as a whole. These 2013 data are the first annual update to the influential “High-Resolution Global Maps of 21st-Century Forest Cover Change” published in Science, and are the latest globally consistent estimates of tree cover loss available.

So what do the data say? Much analysis remains to be done, but here are five immediate highlights:

Tree Cover Loss Remains High Globally, Surges in Russia and Canada

Global tree cover loss in 2013 continued to be high at over 18 million hectares (69,500 square miles)—about twice the size of Portugal—slightly lower than 2012, but a troubling 5.2 percent increase over the 2000-2012 average. In 2011-2013, Russia and Canada topped the list (mostly due to forest fires), jointly accounting for 34 percent of total loss.

Tree cover loss is a measure of the total loss of all trees within a specific area regardless of the cause. It includes human-driven deforestation, forest fires both natural and manmade, clearing trees for agriculture, logging, plantation harvesting, and tree mortality due to disease and other natural causes. Tree cover gain also happened during 2013, but is not included in the 2013 update or this analysis as it is more difficult to monitor than loss. Much of the tree cover loss is only temporary, as forests regenerate after disturbances such as fire, though in the boreal region this is a very slow process.

Global bar chartClick to enlarge

To see a complete ranking of countries by tree cover loss, visit the GFW country rankings and country profiles.

Continue reading

Global Forest Watch News Roundup: Week of January 12

GFW News Roundup: Forest stories from around the world that demonstrate the power of spatial analysis and open data in improving management of forest landscapes

To learn more about GFW, a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system, click here, or follow us on twitter at @globalforests.

Top Reads of the Week

Indonesia rolls back protection of carbon-rich peatlands. An Indonesian law that protects peatlands will be revised to allow for business-as-usual practices on the carbon-rich soils, according to the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Indonesian Law 71/2014, passed in October of 2014, requires a minimum water level in peatlands of 40 cm. Oil palm and timber industry groups criticized the law and claimed it would harm industry, while environmental groups claimed that the law did not go far enough in protecting peat soils. Companies will be allowed to continue business-as-usual operations on peat with water depth less than 40 cm under the revised rule. Read more about how drained peat soils contribute to fires and climate change at Eco-Business. (via Mongabay and the Jakarta Post)

Increases in food production can go hand-in-hand with decreases in deforestation. A new study found that food production increased while deforestation decreased in Matto Grosso, Brazil between 2001 and 2010, potentially demonstrating the value of policies that push agriculture into already-degraded land. Between 2001 and 2006, soy production accounted for about 10% of deforestation in the province. Yet between 2006 and 2010 only 2% of deforestation was attributed to expanded soy production, with 91% of the production increases occurring on degraded cattle pasture. (via Mongabay)

Continue reading